Statement Arria-formula Meeting on “Unarmed Approaches for the Protection of Civilians”

Statement by H.E. Lise Gregoire-van Haaren,
Deputy Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
to the United Nations

New York, 1 December 2017

Mr. Chair, distinguished delegates,

Allow me to express my appreciation to Uruguay, Senegal, Sweden, and the United Kingdom for organizing this meeting.

Unarmed Approaches for the Protection of Civilians was the topic of a side event that the Netherlands co-hosted in October 2016, and where Nonviolent Peaceforce showcased their important work; I am happy to see this is now discussed during  an Arria formula meeting with members of the Council. The Kingdom of the Netherlands sees unarmed approaches for the protection of civilians as an important tool in the protection of civilians toolbox. We welcome this discussion to better understand when and how these approaches can be applied most effectively.

The lessons from today help us to better understand the effectiveness of different unarmed PoC strategies; when to use them, where to use them and how. We look forward to working with all of you to bring these lessons into practice, during our Security Council membership in 2018, and beyond.

I would like to highlight three points in relation to Unarmed Approaches:

  • The necessity of an integrated approach and local ownership;
  • The financial benefits of unarmed civilians protection in peacekeeping;
  • The importance of involving women and women’s organizations

Mr. Chair,

Firstly, the necessity of an integrated approach and local ownership. An integrated strategy on PoC for the military, police, and civilian parts of peace operations helps monitor developments and take timely actions. Involvement of and consultation with the local population is key to help inform the mission about protection concerns, provide clues with regard to the root causes of the conflict and create a safe environment for the population. Unarmed civilian protection is an excellent mechanism for closer involvement with the local communities. We must also however be realistic about the limits of this approach. Not in every conflict is unarmed protection an option.

Secondly, where we can make use of civilian protection it is a relatively economic tool. In times of budget cuts for peacekeeping, we need to consider whether we can reach similar results using tools such as unarmed protection, that are significantly cheaper.

Thirdly, the importance of involving women and women’s organizations. Employing unarmed approaches, such as support to local peace infrastructures and community based early warning systems, helps open doors to further inclusive conflict prevention and peace building. We need to bring women around the mediation table and let the voice of women’s organizations on the ground be heard. This is critical to build sustainable peace.

Mr. Chair,

One question I’d like to pose to the panellists is about monitoring and reporting. Measuring protection is a tremendous challenge for obvious reasons. What are the experiences of your organisations in the field? How can we ensure and measure that Unarmed Protection delivers results?

In conclusion, I wish to once again commend Uruguay, Senegal, Sweden and the United Kingdom for their efforts to keep unarmed approaches on the international agenda. The Kingdom of the Netherlands stands ready to support.

Thank you.

Belongs to